What could a postgraduate course offer you?

Seven students from a wide range of courses share their experiences and advice

Why did you choose to do a postgraduate course?

I chose the MSc in Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Cooperatives as it casts a solution-focused lens over some of the social and environmental challenges that we all face. The practical element of the master’s was also a key factor in my decision.

I have always learned by doing, and through my placement with Change by Degrees, I was fortunate to find a programme and a company that afforded me the opportunity to put classroom theory into real-world practice.

For me, that was huge, because after I completed my undergraduate degree, I couldn’t see a natural path into sustainability or social enterprise in Ireland without having my own bright idea as there were few career opportunities.


As a result, I spent three years working in management consulting in Dublin. While I worked with exciting businesses and developed a skillset in project and change management, it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.

So, I jumped at an opportunity to move to Australia and work on a change management project with the Victorian government, which was implementing a social procurement platform at the time in its parks and wildlife department.

I helped it develop communication and training material to help its employees adjust to a new way of doing things.

Through my role, I experienced the devastation of the bushfires in Australia first-hand and after Covid-19 began to take hold in the country, I decided to move home.

At that point, I wanted to develop my expertise in sustainability and felt that the course would provide the best platform to achieve that goal.

Through my placement, I learned so much about how companies develop and implement sustainability strategies and how they communicate those objectives, both internally and externally.

I was also given the opportunity to play a key role in delivering client work throughout my placement and was provided with the time to study and write my final research paper.

On completing the placement, I joined Change by Degrees as a project and change manager and I now work on sustainability projects with a range of clients from local authorities to large corporates.

Ciara Egan, MSc in Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Cooperatives, University College Cork

What did you gain from your decision to do a postgraduate course?

I graduated with an MSc in Marketing Practice in 2022 from the University of Galway. Before completing my master’s degree I studied commerce for three years and specialised in marketing in my final year.

The main attraction to the course was the 37-week placement. As I did not complete a work placement in my undergraduate degree, I was really interested in gaining real-life work experience.

The small class size was also a huge bonus as it allowed each student to receive continuous support and mentoring from the programme directors and lecturers. The class became very close and the class reps arranged many memorable bonding trips away.

The course focused on learning by doing and not only did you graduate at the end with a master’s degree but also a wealth of knowledge learned through completing real-life marketing tasks throughout the placement.

After completing my placement and studies in the course, I instantly secured my new position in Portwest as a digital marketing specialist. Portwest is a global manufacturer and innovator of workwear, safety wear and PPE.

Having the 37-week work experience was a huge benefit to me when applying for this job as I would not have had the skills and knowledge needed for the role without the placement.

Stephanie Jordan, MSc in Marketing Practice, University of Galway

How has doing a postgraduate degree changed your career?

Enrolling in a postgraduate degree programme can have a significant impact on your personal development and provide clarity on a suitable career path.

For me, pursuing an MA in International Tourism at UL deepened my industry and business knowledge and enhanced my own reflections and critical-thinking skills in the area of international tourism.

I developed a more applied and global perspective on key industry practices and trends. This has helped advance my career readiness.

The postgrad study environment was enjoyable and interactive and supportive, particularly in terms of learning from classmates, access to faculty and listening to speakers from the industry.

The MA not only widened my career prospects but also provided me with additional professional skills and a network that accelerated my career possibilities.

With these new skills and knowledge, I was eligible to progress to a PhD programme, where my research focuses on the role of new technologies and sustainability to enhance the visitor experience at the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare.

Ernesto Batista-Sanchez, MA in International Tourism, University of Limerick

Did undertaking a postgraduate course result in personal growth as well as academic or career growth?

My master’s degree at UCD has made me feel more confident in carrying out work individually.

The level of teaching and the content of the modules were really of high quality and I could dive into one topic that I personally find really interesting – electronic health records – during the one semester that was solely dedicated to writing a thesis.

What I also really appreciated was the fact we were allowed to follow modules stemming from different academic fields, such as social science, philosophy and law. This is especially interesting for the field of digital policy.

Therefore, I felt like this postgraduate study was really tailored to the work field and therefore prepared me well for my future career.

Furthermore, the assignments we had to do were very varied, ranging from simulating a presentation to stakeholders to writing a policy report and this allowed me to practise different skills.

- Jet Klokgieters, MSc in Digital Policy, University College Dublin

What are the benefits of doing a postgraduate course?

To me, the benefits of doing a postgraduate course have been huge. Both professionally and personally.

One of the most unique modules on the course was “evidence-based practice” where we developed the skills to stay up to date with the fast-growing research in our field. Moreover, we were taught how to analyse and critique it by experts themselves.

This certainly gives you an edge over others, no matter how you wish to pursue your career – clinical or research, or both.

Before the master’s, I was very intimidated by the term “research”. Having successfully completed a small-scale project as a part of my dissertation during the postgraduate programme, I now understand its vital implications in everyday clinical practice and feel confident to continue exploring in a much more informed manner.

Developing new perspectives and experiencing the joy of overcoming intellectual and emotional challenges during the course have been very valuable in my personal growth.

Purvi Jain, MSc in Clinical Speech and Language Studies, Trinity College Dublin

What was the biggest takeaway learning from your postgraduate programme?

At the time of considering a postgraduate degree, I was working as a nurse. I was no longer happy in my role and wished to change my career path while being able to carry forward the knowledge, skillset and professional experience I had gained.

I was unsure how to navigate this change and considered doing a master’s degree to give myself time to figure out what I wanted to do while furthering myself academically.

A postgraduate degree allowed me to move from one career seamlessly into another, from frontline worker to behind the scenes in research.

The MSc in Immunology and Global Health at Maynooth University taught me valuable skills in research, networking, critical thinking, appreciation of knowledge, as well as aiding me to find a career I was happy in.

Since graduating, I have worked in an academic research lab where I am now undertaking a PhD in biology and chemistry investigating antimicrobial resistance.

Shauna O’Shea, MSc in Immunology and Global Health, Maynooth University

How did doing a postgraduate course help you in your career?

Having dropped out of college when I was 19, I went back to studying when I was 60 when I enrolled in a postgraduate Diploma in Conflict and Dispute Resolution at Trinity College Dublin two evenings per week.

Around this time, I wanted my career to pivot from a heavy focus on strategy, business and commercial targets to one where I could work within the NGO sector. I was inspired by a wonderful man who was a mediator with a charity that offered frontline services for the homeless and for whom I was fundraising.

I had no primary degree, but thanks to my broad work experience, I was accepted. The course completely took me out of my comfort zone as I had to learn how to research and write essays.

I got through the course, made some lovely connections and, with the encouragement of the faculty, I applied and was accepted into the Masters of International Peace Studies.

As I was still working, I did it part-time over two years and graduated in April 2022. It has enormously impacted my understanding of issues I had only a shallow experience of. I have learned how to research, write, cite, critically review and assess nuances.

The school supports each student in a holistic and nurturing manner and despite my worries, my age was not a barrier.

My thesis was on gender-based violence in Haiti. The master’s allowed me to create a new CV at 62 and apply for non-executive roles within the sector I was interested in. I am now on the board of Women’s Aid Ireland and a rapporteur for Repair, which seeks reparations for slavery in the Caribbean.

Lucy Maguire, MPhil in International Peace Studies, Trinity College Dublin

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter